Today’s topic is about the victims of heinous crimes, and why they are powerless in justice system. I had the opportunity to view the first days of a murder trial taking place in Vancouver. I will not write about the actual events that took place from that trial, that would be another crime unto its self, but I want to make a comment regarding some observations that I made while I was sitting in the public gallery listening to both the Crown and Defense make their starting arguments. What I saw, were the friends and family of the victim, strategically positioned in the front three rows of the courtroom, all wearing T-shirts that had the photo of the victim’s face on them. They stood out amongst the suits, ties and robes that inhabit the Bar. Obviously, this was a stark and constant reminder to get the Judge’s attention.
The people who sat in the front rows were not only related to the decease, but were there because of another victim, a woman who was almost beaten to death from the same event, and is still in constant care from her injuries after so many months. They were the one’s who spoke to the media outside the courtroom building asking for stiffer punishments and why they were they left in the dark as to what was going on inside the trial itself. The tough reality of justice for the public is that once the crime has taken place, the victim’s role is all but done in the process.
Once a person becomes a victim from a criminal event, then the system swings into place, taking over like a automated machine: why? The main reason for this dates back to more than 800 years, when our criminal justice system was being born. The concept was to stop vengeance killings from the local village people who would otherwise go out, form a posse, then hunt the perpetrator down, usually brutally killing him–even without any trial for conviction. The King of England at the time recognized that revenge killings were not in his kingdom’s best interests, and as a consequence, he, or the representatives in the name of the Crown, took control of all criminal investigations thereafter. The idea was based on one simple concept: the impartial mind making the judgment. Justice would not be carried out by one angry mob of people, but methodically administered by trained professionals whose job it is to convict based on facts presented in a fare trial before an impartial judge under the rule of law.